This film is too small, sensitive and understated to get much mainstream attention, but it was very well received by both audiences and critics when it was released in cinemas last year. It looks at the subject of gender identity by observing a sweet family drama, played from the point of view of a ten-year-old girl. She has short hair, a boyish face, and when the family moves to a new area she pretends to be male amongst her new friends.
The most interesting aspect of the film is the relationship the child has with her younger sister, who is more than willing to take part in the deception provided she gets a big brother she can be proud of. “Before we came here, all the boys were scared of him and all the girls loved him”, she says, extending the fantasy her sibling has created.
The film doesn’t explore sexuality very deeply, which is understandable considering the main character is prepubescent, although she does experiment with a rather innocent same-sex relationship. For some this may be too slight an offering, but does have a peak into territory that is rarely explored with such perception and honesty.
Tomboy (2011), directed by Celine Sciamma, is distributed on DVD and Blu-ray from Peccadillo Pictures, certificate U.